New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski is arguably the best tight end in the NFL, and a 6-foot-7 prospect nicknamed ‘Baby Gronk’ is highly considering Alabama.
Alex Marshall, a three-star prospect from Andover (Mass.) High School picked up an offer from the Crimson Tide on Feb. 25, and he had the chance to speak with Nick Saban Tuesday.
With this being Alabama tight end O.J. Howard’s final year at school, Marshall said he sees a great opportunity to come in early and contribute.
“The possibility for early playing time is something that I really value and take into consideration in the program I am going to be committing to,” Marshall said.
“I’m fine with my first year getting the ropes under me and learning the plays, the players and the staff, kind of growing my first year. Obviously, I am trying to get on the field as early as possible.”
Saban made sure to stress the fact that Howard will be leaving. What’s interesting about Saban’s message to Marshall was the fact that the five-time national champion admitted he wasn’t pleased with Howard’s role before the championship game.
Against Clemson in the championship, Howard caught five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Entering that game, he didn’t have any touchdowns and wasn’t a featured part of that offense. According to Marshall, Saban wants that to change this season.
“(Saban) didn’t think it was fine that O.J. wasn’t getting targeted more,” Marshall said. “He really thought he was a key to their offense, and it showed in the championship. It was really valuable to hear that from him. I think my game mirrors O.J. Howard’s game, meaning I can block big defensive ends and have the athletic ability to spread the field.”
When Marshall does make his decision, academics are going to be the biggest priority to him. He wants to attend a great business school. When it comes to football, he knows what he’s looking for — and he mentions one school in particular that has already caught his eye.
“I’m looking for that offense that will showcase tight ends like Coach (Tim) Brewster at Florida State, who I have been talking to,” Marshall said. “I want a coach that will turn a tight end into a Mackey Award (nation’s best tight end) finalist. That’s one of my goals — to win the Mackey Award. I just want a coach that will really help fulfill my goals in college.”
Marshall said he will be narrowing down his 22 offers soon, but he does plan to speak with LSU’s Les Miles on Wednesday and a conversation with Oregon’s staff this Thursday. But when he does cut his list, he believes the Crimson Tide will make the cut.
“Alabama should be on that list, but there is definitely more research I need to do,” Marshall said. “I don’t want to be put into an offense where I’ll just be blocking every play. I’m fine with doing that because I understand that’s part of the tight end position — you are an extra offensive lineman. But, I want to be showcased like (former FSU TE) Nick O’Leary. He can block and he can also go out and make plays. Alabama will probably be on my list as of now.”
It’s clear that Howard’s role in Alabama’s offense this season is going to be a large factor for whether or not the Crimson Tide lands Marshall’s signature.
Marshall is rated as the nation’s No. 23 tight end, per the 247Sports composite rankings.